3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. – (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12)
Take heed, this is Paul’s warning to the Thessalonians, who were in serious error concerning the imminent return of our Lord Jesus. Many had either misunderstood him or purposely misrepresented his teachings on this. Paul admonishes the church to not be deceived by those spreading untruths, as there were many things that must happen before Christ’s return. But in his exhortation also comes a great prophetic warning–the coming of the lawless one, and what he will bring.
What we see in Paul’s warning is exactly what we see unfolding in front of our eyes in the Church today. During the Protestant Reformation, Christianity was salvaged by God after centuries of suppression by the hands of Rome. There were great men of faith that have been persecuted and even martyred countless times for defending what they so strongly believed in. In an extravagant display of hatred, John Wycliffe’s bones were dug up forty years after he died and burned for translating the Bible into English and speaking out against the Papacy. Martin Luther, a monk who nailed the 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg, was excommunicated from the church. William Tyndale, who also famously translated Bibles into English though it were illegal, remained faithful until his strangling death, and body burned by the King of England. Thousands upon thousands of Protestants gave their lives during the Reformation era, and against all odds, through all of the persecution, and against the evils of the Roman Catholic Church, Christianity prevailed.
For several centuries, Biblical Christianity’s influence grew enormously, while the influence of the Papacy dwindled. Though still a forceful presence throughout the world, Roman Catholicism stood in stark contrast to Protestantism, and the differences between them were clear. The reformation produced some of the greatest theologians and preachers of all time. John Calvin, best known for his theological works regarding the doctrines of grace, was very outspoken against the works-based doctrines of Rome. There was the Puritan, Thomas Watson and later there was George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, and so on. There was no confusing Catholicism with Protestant Biblical Christianity–the doctrinal divide was clear. The Roman Catholic Church, especially the Papacy, is anti-Christ–this is what the reformers believed.
We here are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist…personally I declare that I owe the Pope no other obedience than that to Antichrist. – Martin Luther[1. The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 2., pg. 121 Froom]
When the western church was divided for about 40 years between two rival popes, one in Rome and the other in Avigon, France, each pope called the other pope antichrist – and John Wycliffe is reputed to have regarded them as both being right – Wycliffe[2. The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 2., pg. 121 Froom]
[The pope] is in an emphatical sense, the Man of Sin, as he increases all manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled the Son of Perdition, as he has caused the death of numberless multitudes, both of his opposers and followers… He it is…that exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped…claiming the highest power, and highest honour…claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone. – John Wesley[3. Antichrist and His Ten Kingdoms by John Wesley, pg. 110. ]
But what we see unfolding today is an unraveling of all the work the protest stood for, and a merging of ecumenical partnerships between the false church, and bible-believing evangelicalism. The flagship denomination of evangelicalism, the Southern Baptist Convention, is not only now succumbing to these antichrist forces, but leading the way. The Church that once stood strong and hard against the influences of the world and its false religion has now been diminished to another propaganda machine for the works of darkness. And sadly, there are those who will do anything–anything to defend it.
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; – Revelation 18:4
The Roman Catholic church is not the only false church we battle though it is the mother. Evangelicalism is loaded with its apostate ministers and business organizations masquerading as houses of God. No matter what your lifestyle is, homosexual, drug users, fornicators, idolators, “personally included and accepted in our community,” they say. Our preachers MUST preach in a manner that “leaves people feeling better about themselves than when they came in,” they write. Affirmation of sin is the new gospel. They water down the bible and hand people a Get-Out-Of-Hell-Free card with their easy altar-calls and sinner’s prayers, followed by baptisms and affirmations of being members of the body of Christ while practicing unrepentant sin.
But our leadership has long abandoned the defense of sound doctrine and have taken many aboard the anti-Christ train with them. Our influential evangelical organizations water down the lines between truth and apostasy and join hands with them any chance they get to promote a political agenda. The average evangelical, even a born-again bible-believing evangelical has no idea that the Roman Catholic church teaches a false Gospel, and that the pope, leading millions to hell, is anything but a good man. “If we are going to form opinions about important global leaders like Francis (and many of us will) we should do so based on factual information. It’s not enough to say Pope = Bad,” proclaims one influential Southern Baptist leader. In fact, promotion of the Papacy and Popery has become the norm at these so-called evangelical organizations. What do bible-believing Christians need to learn from a pope?
Doesn’t the pope need the Gospel? Shouldn’t the pope be called to repentance? Do we simply have “minor disagreements” with the pope? Of the 9 things an evangelical leader say we as Christians need to know about the pope, the most important thing about him wasn’t even mentioned–the fact that he is lost, and on his way to Hell.
How can a once-claimed born-again evangelical forsake her Protestant roots, and become a Roman Catholic while under the church leadership of one of the most widely promoted pastors in the evangelical church? Is it because this ecumenical promoter of Roman Catholicism has forsaken God’s Word himself? Is it because he allegorizes Scripture rather than stand on it and proclaim it as truth? This should be an embarrassment to the evangelical leadership, but there hasn’t been one word mentioned of it from him. How can pastors like this become so widely promoted by bible-believers? Isn’t this the deception of the elect? Isn’t this the forsaking of truth for unity?
But those who have boarded the train have lost all sight of this. The church, to them, is no longer about proclaiming God’s word boldly, risking your reputations, friendships, and even your life to speak truth and to do God’s will. No, the false gospel of prominence now is niceness, unity, and love. Men who once stood strong against the apostasy have now left and are full-steam ahead. People who once defended the faith mercilessly have now taken it upon themselves to join forces with the anti-Christ to oppose sound rebuke, and will grasp at every straw possible to discredit anyone who speaks against the agenda. They will defend the absolutely indefensible just to satisfy their lust to see some fail. But God’s Word will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7), and the gates of Hell will not prevail (Matthew 16:18) despite Satan’s most deceptive tactics. Even the elect have been deceived to a certain level, and their pure, vile hatred of the few men who are left to stand against the invasion from Hell, has completely overcome them (Mark 13:22, Matthew 24:24).
Hell is real. The anti-Christ is real, and you are either with him, or against him, but “all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” (Revelation 13:8) And the train is leaving the station.